The Paper Application Has Arrived!

By Deepak Madala

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the paper version of the single, streamlined application for health coverage. All states will need to either adopt this application or use it as a model in developing their own applications for health coverage through the marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The new paper application is considerably shorter and easier to understand than a typical health insurance application. HHS estimates that it will take an average of only seven minutes to fill out. The last health insurance application that I filled out was 20 pages long—and that included several pages with really small fine print. This new application is only three pages long for individuals who are uninsured (application for individuals), and it doesn’t have any of the typical insurance jargon and fine print that makes most health coverage applications hard to understand. A version of the paper application is also available for families and for people who have job-based coverage that might be unaffordable (application for families).

But if paper applications aren’t your thing, don’t worry. The new health insurance marketplaces will provide a wide range of ways to apply for and enroll in health coverage. People will be able to apply on their own online, in person, and over the phone. In most cases, the online application will actually be the fastest way to apply and find out what financial assistance you qualify to receive. Navigators, in-person assisters, health insurance agents and brokers, and certified application counselors will also be available to help applicants (many of whom will be purchasing coverage for the first time) complete an application for themselves and their families.

HHS released two videos in January showing the innovative new enrollment process available for individuals and families using the online version of the application. The online application will allow applicants to save a lot of time by displaying only questions that are relevant to each person and connecting to a federal data hub that will allow applicants to find out if they are eligible in real time.

Together, the new online and paper applications will make it easier for Americans to sign up for high-quality, affordable health coverage.

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